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Police still after IFP's Powell

Published Mar 25, 2003


A warrant of arrest has been issued for former Inkatha Freedom Party senior leader Philip Powell who left South Africa just before the 1999 elections after he had surrendered a large stockpile of weapons.

Scorpions spokesperson Sipho Ngwema said police were still working on the case. "The matter is still outstanding and, as far as I know, there is a warrant out for his arrest," said Ngwema. "Someone is working on that and a decision should be taken soon."

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Powell left the country to study in London in 1999, but said he would co-operate with the authorities. He left after leading the police to a secret bunker in Nquthu, northern KwaZulu-Natal, which contained seven tons of ammunition, in May 1999.

The arsenal was destroyed by the national directorate of public prosecutions.

Former hitman Eugene de Kock testified before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that he had sent six 10-ton truck loads of weapons to Powell. He said the arms had been collected by KwaZulu government vehicles.

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Some of the weapons were used to train the IFP's self-protection units.

De Kock was taken to view the weapons and confirmed that they were the ones he had sent.

Powell disclosed the arsenal after he was given an ultimatum by prosecuting authorities.

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When asked if he had been working alone, Powell said in a radio interview that he was not "superhuman" and the answer to the question was "self-evident".

IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi denied any knowledge of the weapons and said he had never instructed anyone to acquire weapons.

He also said De Kock's assertions were never tested in court. Buthelezi still maintains his, and his party's innocence regarding the violence between the African National Congress and the IFP.

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The IFP decided not to take action against Powell, saying it neither condemned nor condoned the acquisition of the weapons because in 1993 the situation had been tense and full of violence.

A smaller cache of arms was also found in the KwaHlongwa area, near Hibberdene, in 1999.

The local IFP leader, Calalakubo Khawula, and his adviser, David Hlongwa, were convicted as a result of that discovery, of possession of illegal arms and ammunition.

Khawula was never imprisoned because of frail health. He died two years ago.

Ngwema said there were a number of human rights violation cases that the Scorpions were investigating. - Political Bureau

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